The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Chicago Bears on Monday night at home, and if you’re like me, you’re counting down the hours until the Week 9 game begins. As usual, I will attempt to project the Steelers’ inactives for every game of the 2021 season, and below is my best guess as to which players won’t be given helmets on Monday night against the Bears.
Game inactives are officially announced 90 minutes before kickoff, so make sure you check back at that time to see the names of the players for both teams who will be sitting the game out. Also, the new roster rules make this exercise even harder as teams can elevate up to two players from their practice squads to their active roster for gamedays. Teams also can dress up to 48 players for games if eight offensive linemen are dressed.
TE Eric Ebron – Ebron was ruled out for the Monday night game against the Bears due to a hamstring injury. This is the same hamstring injury that forced Ebron to miss the team’s Week 8 Sunday road game so this makes two weeks in a row he’s been sidelined. Ebron initially showed up on the Steelers injury report a week ago Thursday with a hamstring injury.
QB Dwayne Haskins – Haskins, as expected, was once again one of the Steelers inactive players in Week 8. He still remains the Steelers’ third string quarterback behind Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph yet again this week so he undoubtedly will be inactive again Monday night against the Bears, barring any last-minute injury or surprise. Expect Haskins to continue to show up on the Steelers inactive list quite often throughout the 2021 season. As expected, he has yet to dress for a game this season.
CB Ahkello Withersoon – The Steelers still have a healthy cornerback group this week, and that’s great news. Because of that, look for Witherspoon to once again be inactive Monday night against the Bears. Witherspoon hasn’t been active for a game since Week 2. As mentioned several times previously, Witherspoon is not an asset on special teams, and that continues to hurt his chances of getting a helmet on a weekly basis. He’ll be inactive quite a bit more this season if the cornerbacks all remain healthy.
ILB Buddy Johnson – Johnson dressed for the Steelers’ first three games of the regular season due to injuries at various positions. He has not dressed for a game since, however. Johnson figures to be on the inactive list again Monday night against the Bears. The Steelers have been dressing inside linebackers Devin Bush, Joe Schobert, Robert Spillane, Marcus Allen and Ulysees Gilbert III the last several weeks, and that should continue Monday night.
T Zach Banner – The Steelers entered Sunday with guard B.J. Finney as questionable for the Monday night with a back injury. I’ll guess that Finney winds up suiting up Monday night, and if he does, look for Banner to be inactive once again. Banner has been inactive the last two games since being activated to the 53-man roster from the Reserve/Injured list as a designated-to-return player. Unless Finney is too hurt to play Monday night, there will not be enough helmets to go around for Banner to get one.
RB Kalen Ballage – The Steelers elevated tight end Kevin Rader from the practice squad on Monday, and that means he’s almost certain to dress and play against the Bears. Rader being active Monday night could result in the Steelers making a running back inactive. That means that there’s a good chance that either Ballage or Benny Snell Jr. is likely to be inactive. With Snell being the better special teams player of the two, I will predict that Ballage, who suffered injured ribs in the team’s Week 8 game, will be inactive Monday night so that Rader can get a helmet.